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The iPhone XS – It’s Here, but is it Anything Special?

We round up the reviews, hands-on impressions, and thoughts on Apple’s new iPhone Xs and Xs Max!




iPhone Xs Xs Max Xr

Apple made pretty big changes to their line-up with the recent reveal of their new iPhone models. The biggest takeaway is that the iPhone X has been discontinued completely, and it’s been replaced with the iPhone Xs and the Xs Max, essentially the standard and larger version of the latest iPhone iteration. Other than the display size difference, which will influence people’s decisions based on their individual needs, they’re effectively the same phones with the following specs and prices:

  • Super Retina OLED screens, 5.8-inch (Xs), 6.5-inch (Xs Max)
  • iOS 12
  • Dual 12 MP main cameras
  • 7 MP FaceID front-facing camera
  • Apple A12 chipset
  • 64GB/256GB/512GB storage
  • IP68 water resistance
  • iPhone Xs pricing:
    • iPhone Xs 64GB – R21,999
    • iPhone Xs 256GB – R24,999
    • iPhone Xs 512GB – R29,999

    iPhone Xs Max pricing:

    • iPhone Xs Max 64GB – R23,999
    • iPhone Xs Max 256GB – R26,999
    • iPhone Xs Max 512GB – R31,999

But, when it comes to the tough decision of whether to upgrade to the Xs or not, critics have a mixed-bag of views:

Tech Radar

“The iPhone XS is, obviously, the best that Apple’s ever created – that’s no surprise, as it’s the new flagship iPhone. However, the question is whether Apple has done enough to make this the most attractive to buy, and whether it’s enough to stop anyone moving to a competitor. The iPhone XS is good enough in many ways, but it’s not much of an upgrade over 2017’s X, and doesn’t redefine anything the way last year’s phone did – the main upgrade is the camera, with Smart HDR making a difference.” Read the full review.


“If you’ve got an iPhone X and don’t care about a larger screen or better camera performance, you’ll survive just fine another year or two with it, especially with iOS 12. If the prices are still a turn-off, consider holding off until the iPhone XR launches in late October; it starts at $749 and has virtually all of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max features minus the superior OLED screens and secondary rear camera. Plus it comes in colors like blue, red, yellow, and coral.” Read the full review.

NY Times

“I encourage you to try before you buy. It may not hurt to wait for the XR’s release next month so you can test all three in a store. Play with the cameras and pay close attention to how each phone feels in one hand and inside your pocket. It’s important that you find the right fit: Since you have to pay so much for your next iPhone, you will probably live with it for a long time. And who knows? You might assume you will dislike a bigger screen and then change your mind — just as I did.” Read the full review.

The Telegraph

“I would recommend that most people wait for the cheaper iPhone XR, which comes out next month and on the face of it seems like it delivers more bang for your buck.” Read the full review.

Tom’s Guide

“If you’ve been holding off on upgrading your iPhone 7 or iPhone 6s, either one of these handsets will feel like a huge leap forward. The cameras are miles better — especially in low light — and the A12 chip provides a big speed boost. Between the two, I’d opt for the iPhone Xs Max because of its bigger and more immersive 6.5-inch display and longer battery life.” Read the full review.

The Verge

“I would not rush out to spend another $999 on the XS if you have an X, but if you’re already deep into a pre-order, don’t worry: you will love the iPhone XS. It is indeed, more iPhone, and it will probably hold up for years to come. I definitely prefer the Pixel 2’s camera, but the iPhone XS isn’t that far behind, and it’s still a significant improvement over previous iPhones. For everyone else, I think it’s worth waiting to see how the iPhone XR turns out before rushing in — it has the same processor and the same main camera for $750. The only major question is how good its 6.1-inch LCD will look in comparison to the the XS’s OLED.” Read the full review.

Our take:

After a side by side comparison many journalists seem to agree that while the improvements for the XS and XS Max are impressive, they’re not leagues better than the iPhone X which will still be accessible for a short while. Another common perception is that they stack up well compared to the best Android flagships, but individual consumers will have to decide whether or not the price of the iOS devices is justified considering they’re on par with Android performance.

Like with any phone purchase, the most important question is asking how good it is or what functions it has. The most important question is: “What am I going to use it for?”. A lot of iPhones are still going to be up for purchase, ranging from the SE all the way to the Xs Max, so if you want to stay within the iOS ecosystem, it’s worth your while to investigate the differences between them before you decide to invest in the latest and greatest iteration.

Will you be picking up the new iPhone when it launches? Let us know below or on Facebook or Twitter!

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